with a spirit running wild, running free
and they saw trouble in my eyes
they were quick to recognize the devil in me
see, I was born a restless child
and I could hear the world outside calling me
and heaven knows how hard I tried
but the devil whispered lies I believed
can you hear it hanging on the wind?
can you feel it underneath your skin?
you've got to go on, further than you've ever gone
you've got to run far from all you've ever known"
-'Second Child, Restless Child' by The Oh Hello's
Every time this song plays from our iPod, I can't help but think of Ellie. The first time I heard it I wondered if someone had been watching through our windows and written a song about her.
Ellie and I came to a moment yesterday that has been long in coming. She has been so antsy lately, fidgety, quarrelsome, deliberately disobeying and intentionally doing wrong. I spent quite awhile earlier this week researching strong-willed children, birth order, etc. I have been calm with her, although at times I have found myself in a yelling match. With a just-shy-of-5-years-old daughter. Not the greatest mom moment I've had. She just knows how to kick me when I'm down.
So yesterday we returned home from picking Caleb up from speech therapy when I found myself weary, hungry since I still had to eat my own lunch, and ready to put the younger boys down for their naps and get a break myself. Ellie had already started in on everyone before we were even out of the van and I could tell she was tired. I told her I wanted her to try to nap as well. This led to tears, yelling, and a dramatic tantrum that would put celebrity divas to shame. I followed her upstairs to the bedroom she had stomped off to, ready (but calm, surprisingly!) to discipline her. After the disciplinary moment, as I was holding her, she started to struggle against me. Her eyes flashed and she started saying,
"You hate me!"
"You HATE me!"
"Eleanor, that is a lie. I will not have you believe it." As I started praying aloud in the name of Jesus (oh, yes, I did) that her mind would stop hearing the lies of evil and that her heart would stop believing it, she broke down and cried but there was more to come.
"You want me to be just like Noah."
Good grief, she can't read yet but it's as if she could read these emotions I myself had been struggling with this week as I worked to realize that I can't compare her to Noah. I have to appreciate her personality and temperament and spirit and learn to nurture it.
I grabbed her and held her close again. "Eleanor, look in my eyes. I. Am. Sorry. I am SO sorry that I have made you feel you need to be like Noah. You are nothing like Noah. Nothing! And that is ok. It's good! God made you and Noah and Caleb and Ezekiel all different from each other." We went on to talk about why God makes people different and point out differences that we can see between her and Noah. I explained that Noah's personality is one that likes rules and instructions and building things. I told her that he is creative in a way that helps him to build really cool things.
Then we talked about her. I explained that whereas Noah likes things to be neat and in order, she is what's considered a "free spirit." I praised her creativity in an outward sense. Whereas Noah likes to color in the lines, she likes to see a rainbow where there might not be one. She dances around as if her heart is full of a song only she can hear. She is a little mommy, sensitive and wanting to help care for others. She is full of laughter and life. It sounds cheesy, but the world really is her canvas and she is painting away using the whole palette of colors, mixing them together to form new ones in the process.
We finished by reading Kevin Leman's book, "Middle Child, There's No One Like You." I would highly recommend that series of books. Not everything in there is completely accurate since you have to take into account temperament styles, but there really is something to birth order.
In the lyrics above, the last line says, "You've got to run far from all you've ever known." My prayer for her right now is that she runs far from what she's known so far, all she's ever known. If Tim and I have made her feel she needs to be just like Noah, I hope she runs far from that belief. I hope she runs far from the rebellious streak that has already been so prominent in her. That she'll buck the "middle child syndrome" and realize that she can be a free spirit and still be obedient to the Lord. And I hope I can run far from the things I have done to make her feel she is inadequate as she is and help her to see that she is loved more than she can imagine for exactly who she is.